Don't Be Idle
Now we command you, brothers, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you keep away from any brother who is walking in idleness and not in accord with the tradition that you received from us. – 2 Thessalonians 3:6
Idleness means having nothing to do. This is slightly different from laziness, which means to not do.
Paul hates idleness to the point that he uses the name of the Lord! Isn't that a bit extreme? Is this using the name's Lord in vain? Old testament Jews were so afraid of mis-using the Lord's name that they never referred directly to the Lord's name but applied a substitute. But Paul boldly declares that idleness is against the Lord and that we should keep away from anyone who walks in idleness.
If anyone is not willing to work, let him not eat. – 2 Thessalonians 3:10
Food is our sustenance required to keep us alive. Paul declares that those who idle should no longer have the right to continue living.
You are as good as dead.
Think hard about that for a bit. Why is idleness such a big deal? What about God's grace? Why is Paul taking such a hard stance?
For we hear that some among you walk in idleness, not busy at work, but busybodies. – 2 Thessalonians 3:11
We see the second time Paul uses the phrase walking in idleness.
A clearer picture, we now have. Even if you're running around looking like you're doing a lot of work, you may simply be a busybody. A busybody is someone who acts busy for the sake of acting busy. Strip that away, and they really aren't that busy.
In other words, we should spend our time meaningfully. This is the root of Paul's concern, that idleness rots oneself away (to the point of being as good as dead). We should be remain focused on carrying out God's will.
Nor did we eat anyone's bread without paying for it, but with toil and labor we worked night and day, that we might not be a burden to any of you. – 2 Thessalonians 3:8
Paul walks the walk. He demonstrates his best behavior so that others can imitate him.
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